hiking

An Active Vacation in Guam

Guam
This is the true story of 7 strangers picked to travel to an island together.  To live together, do activities together, and travel together for 3(ish) days.
So maybe the trip to Guam was more Real World Road Rules Challenge style, but here’s how this random trip went down.
My roommate Dustin and I were flying a trip together and were sitting at an airport discussing our airline agreements.  Air Tahiti came up and we decided we needed a beach trip in our lives, and Tahiti should be it.  After looking it up we quickly changed our minds.  It was expensive, difficult to get to the areas we would stay, and a honeymooners paradise.  Dustin and I like the same type of men, and I’m not sure how that would go over at a honeymooners resort.  So, he pitched the idea of Guam.  I had previously looked into Guam and knew the beaches were beautiful.  We can also fly there for free as flight attendants because it’s a US territory, (yes people, it’s the U.S… ) Done. That was all we needed to pick our days and start sending out text invites.  All within 3 hours of sitting at the Detroit airport.
So, a week later…  7 people found their way to Honolulu.  Personally, I knew 3 others in the group. Everyone went a day or so early other than me.  I had to make things difficult and flew from Tampa to Houston to Honolulu to Guam…. all in a day. Actually around 24 hours of traveling exactly and a lot of luck flying the entire thing standby.
We arrived in the evening and drove our rental mini suv (yep 7 people) to our airbnb.  There are surprisingly plenty of rental options in Guam, specifically the touristy area around Tumon Bay, but no so many options for 7 budget travelers.  So, when we pulled up to our dimly lit apartment rental behind a strip of restaurants and see 5 guys hanging out in the hallway we were a little concerned.  Upon entering we realize it was a converted store, made obvious by the push and pull stickers on the glass front door.  It turned out to be just fine though, and prime location next to an alley that led to a tree swing on the beach, and it was just off the main strip of bars and restaurants.  7 people made it work in a 2 bedroom 1 bath pretty easily if I do say so myself.  There were a few complications that last night, but I’ll just leave that memory for the 7 of us haha…
We woke up and rolled out early morning for our poorly planned day of exploring.  Poorly planned because we had no WiFi and had to revert back to the days of not having a phone for navigation or to Google hikes.  We find ‘directions’ for a hike we previously picked out, called something pools, and set off.  The directions took us to a beach… that was all.  No markers, no sign, no anything except for a family hanging out on a beautiful beach.
We decided to walk the empty beach, and I’ll be dang if we don’t come up to WWII pipes that were in the description on the hike.  Next were the 2 balancing rocks about to topple over into the ocean… which was the end of the ‘hike’. Apparently we wandered in the right direction! Climbing over razor sharp coral/rocks to get to that point wasn’t enough tho.  We kept going… Actually we were just trying to keep up with Dustin.  But, I’m very thankful we did.  The beaches we came across were some of the most beautiful I think I’ve ever walked on.  Dale & Melissa worked diligently and cracked open fresh coconuts on the coral, we swam in perfectly clear water, picked up freakin starfish right off the ocean floor, and relaxed under giant palm trees on a pink sand beach that casually leaned towards the ocean. Basically, my perfect day.
The best part, we didn’t see a sole!  Unless you count the bazillion hermit crabs and multiple blue starfish.  I’ve never seen a starfish in the ‘wild’, and we (Dustin) just picked 2 of them right up (after a conversation about if the blue ones could be poisonous).  There were a couple more curled up around coral that we didn’t bother. Once we had our fill, we put our socks and tennis shoes back on and walked back.
Next, we planned to hike to a place called Tarzan Pools and then Tarzan Falls.
We weren’t exactly prepared for this.  Like, half the group didn’t eat breakfast and we had no water.  It was 80 degrees and the hike was completely exposed to the sun.  By the time we made it to the lack-luster pool, half of us were exhausted.  Then we had to hike back… Forget finding the falls, at that point we had to get back to the car before one of our group passed out…. ahem, I’m not naming any names.
We had Mexican for lunch, as recommended by locals.  Yes, Mexican, in Guam… A friend of one of our group met up with us at that point and took over as tour guide.  He took us to the south side of the island (I think) and we saw lots of rolling hills and views for days. Guam actually has the highest mountain in the world, Mount Lamlam.  It is 37,820 feet tall! However, it starts at the deepest point of the ocean, the Marianas Trench, so only the top of it is exposed above sea level at an elevation of only 1,334 feet. We went to a natural tide pool, and then to watch the sunset from the ruins of a Spanish fort built to overlook the ocean.
 It was the perfect spot for a sunset, and we cracked open a beer and enjoyed. We were dead tired by the time we got home and in bed by 9 I think. Wild ones I tell ya.
We woke up for sunrise and walked through our sketchy building’s little alleyway to the beach to watch it.  I had purchased champagne and orange juice the night before and surprised the group with mimosas as we watched the sunrise over a completely calm ocean.  As we are enjoying the moment it started raining, whatever… we didn’t mind. As the champagne buzz was kicking in we notice a rainbow appear as the rain slowed.  Then another rainbow as the sun started to come up.  It was ridiculous I tell ya! I’m a huge fan of sunrises and sunsets, and rainbows, and mimosas, and tree swings, and anything cliche cheesy…  so to say I was a happy camper is a massive understatement. I wasn’t alone in my feelings, pretty sure everyone enjoyed starting the day out on such an awesome note. I mean a double rainbow, while drinking mimosas, watching the sunrise on the beach?! Come on!
This day we planned a bit better.  We wanted to do a hike to the waterfalls that our new local friend mentioned, so we went to Burger King for free wifi and breakfast.  Yes, Burger King, in Guam. Our map that we saved to our phone was a bit ummm, cave-mannish, and our directions included things like turn right at the tank.  Well, we found the tank.  But, there were like 6 trails leading all ways from the tank.
 As we’re debating which trail ‘right at the tank’ meant, 2 people appeared from one of the trails straight ahead and informed us the waterfall was like 30 minutes away.  Score! Or so we thought.  We headed that way, and yes… found the top of the waterfall, longer than 30 minutes later, but couldn’t find the path to the bottom.  We wandered through brush, jungle, spider webs, and razor palms.  So, we turned around and headed back to the tank.  That is when we realized Dustin left his $450 sunglasses at the fall.  So we did exactly what marks when things are about to go bad in horror movies, and we split.  I went with him so we could quickly grab them and hustle back… and the others were going to go down the process of elimination correct trail.

Well, once we found the glasses we also found the path down to the bottom.  We yelled for the group that we could see above up at that point and they said no, they were going the other way.  Dustin and I huuustled down that gutter trail complete with ropes to lower yourself down convinced that we were going to beat the others to the bottom.  We did. We swam. We jumped off the falls. We waited. We yelled. We went back.  Apparently they didn’t like the trail down and decided to wait for us to come back before we all went.  Yeaaaa, they were pissed. But, the waterfall was beautiful and totally secluded…  I wish the group could have experienced it, but selfishly I’m glad I got to. 
We piled back into our 5 person small SUV and rolled out after a hot hike back.  We stopped for a gorgeous views and  few photos while just cruising around the island with windows down and music playing.
Next up on the exploration list, a green sand beach.  Actually only 1 of 4 in the world. Hello, of course we wanted to see that!  We knew the area it was in and semi had directions.  We passed beach after beach but none of them were green.  Finally we stopped and Muj, our fearless driver, asked for directions.  Apparently the green sand beach was actually the poop brown beach we had just driven past.  The store worker said that it really is green when the tide washed the minerals up, but it isn’t always that way.  Apparently we weren’t in luck that day.  BUT, he also mentioned that he was surprised that was why we came, because most people come to that beach for the sand.  When asked why he just said to go see.  Melissa nailed it when she said it was like walking on freakin memory foam.  Craziest sand I’ve ever felt, and totally surprising.  It was ‘diamond’ sand I think the man said, and extreemely fine.  The disappointing poop brown beach turned out to be pretty awesome after all.
Next… beers on the beach.  Quite a few.  We watched a beautiful sunset from Tumon Bay and then wrapped up a solid day.
It happened to be the local festival night and we decided to check it.  I finally had some local food, which was rice, a meat skewer, and delicious corn. We watched some local dances, and shopped at the booths.  This is when we had the missing person incident.  One of our group had one too many beverages on the beach and we left them in the car to sleep it off, per their request, with strict instructions not to leave.  Apparently we were gone a little too long and they got hungry.  So, when we got back to the car we had a missing person on our hands. That’s when scenes from a horror movie started playing in my ‘mother hen’ mind.  There is no cell phone service keep in mind.  So we split up, 2 guys searched the alleyways for her body, and the other 2 groups split the market and searched… ya know, in case she wasn’t actually abducted from the car.   We found her shopping for her nephew with an explanation that we took too long and she was hungry…  So, a scene from Taken didn’t play out on this vacation, phew.
That was about it… later, we went out that night to experience a local bar, which was dead on a Wednesday night.  I karaoked Avril Lavigne ‘Sk8er Boi’ with a random local because it was her birthday and she asked me to, and then we headed back to bed.  The (again) not very well thought out plan was to stay awake until our flight so we would sleep the entire thing, which backfired per usual.  I mayyybe got an hr and a half of sleep, and we woke up and headed to the airport.  6 hours back to Honolulu (and slept maybe 1 of them), then we debated who was heading to the mainland and who would stay on for the vacation that never ends.
2 of the girls I met on this trip and I decided to stay.  We booked a hotel for 2 nights rather than the original plan of 1, and headed to Wikiki beach.  
While  having drinks at a rooftop bar one of Melissas friends called her up and asked where we were.  When she told them they informed us they were actually on the way to that same place to pick some people up in a party bus and that we were coming with. I mean, out of all the places.  Soooo, on a Wednesday… in Honolulu, we boarded a party bus with 15 or so locals that were raging for one of their birthdays. We had a blast and stayed up until 530am… our bodies had no internal clock at that point anyhow.
Next day was a much needed beach and relax day. We went to sleep early prepared to wake up at 3am to hike the stairway to heaven, but it was too windy that day apparently. Melissa knew someone in the marines stationed there that offered to pick us up and take us hiking.  So we spent the day doing that and seeing the windward side of the island which is beauuuuutiful.
It was great to have access to the beaches only military can get to.  After a few complications, we headed to the airport to fly home.  Jenny went home, however, she took the last seat

 

We were forced to stay another night, darn it.  The hotels by Waikiki were the same price as the ones near the airport so we decided this was the vacation that never ends and headed back to the beach.  We could have tried for 8am flights, but we figured if we had to book another night we might as well enjoy the beach and another Waikiki sunset one more day.  That night the vacation that never ends finally ended.  We made our redeye flight to LAX and then finally the next afternoon caught a ride home.
It was a really random trip, but one I wont forget. I try and make sure I never forget how lucky I am to be able to see new places and write new stories. This was a trip that reminded me to be very thankful for my flight benefits, and the fact that 6 other people were willing to join the trip to a unconventional place on such a short notice. Guam was great in a take you back to nature kind of way.  To find a place with that much beauty that hasn’t been built up and touristy felt really special.  The jetlag struggle of being 15 hours ahead and then going to 5 hours behind in Honolulu was real, actually it’s a week later and I’m still trying to get a solid 8 hours of sleep.  It was totally worth it!  As they say, I can sleep when I’m dead.

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